2022 GTI Tags Sub-Saharan Africa Global Terrorism Epicentre, As Global Deaths Decline

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The Global Terrorism Index: Countries Most Affected by Terrorist ...Suspected terrorists celebrating a possible successfully orchestrated heinous act or the other.

Despite an increase in attacks, the impact of terrorism continues to decline, according to the 2022 Global Terrorism Index (GTI).

The annual Global Terrorism Index, now in its ninth year, is developed by leading international think tank the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) and provides the most comprehensive resource on global terrorism trends.

The GTI uses a number of factors to calculate its score, including the number of incidences, fatalities, injuries and hostages, and combines it with conflict and socio-economic data to provide a holistic picture of terrorism.

The 2022 GTI revealed that in 2021, deaths from terrorism fell by 1.2 per cent to 7,142, while attacks rose by 17 per cent, highlighting that terrorism is becoming less lethal.

Two thirds of countries recorded no attacks or deaths from terrorism – the best result since 2007 – while 86 countries recorded an improvement on their GTI score.

The number of deaths has remained approximately the same for the last four years.

The Index highlights that terrorism remains a serious threat, with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 48 per cent of total global deaths from terrorism.

Four of the 10 countries with the largest increases in deaths from terrorism were also in sub-Saharan Africa: Niger, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burkina Faso.

Following military defeats in Syria and Iraq, Islamic State (IS) shifted its attention to the Sahel, with deaths from terrorism rising ten times in the region since 2007.

The Sahel has become the new epicentre of terrorism, with terrorism in the region compounded by high population growth, lack of adequate water and food, climate change and weak governments.

The Index noted that many criminal organisations are representing themselves as Islamic insurgencies, adding to the complexity.

The Index shows that terrorism is becoming increasingly concentrated, contracting into countries already suffering from violent conflict.

Conflict zones accounted for 97 per cent of all deaths.

The 10 countries most affected by terrorism are all in conflict zones.

Only 44 countries recorded a death from terrorism in 2021, compared to 55 countries in 2015.

The largest increase in terrorism was in Myanmar, where deaths rose 23 times from 24 to 521, followed by Niger, where deaths doubled, increasing from 257 in 2020 to 588 in 2021.

Mozambique had the largest drop in terrorism deaths, falling by 82 per cent to 93. The success was largely driven by counter-insurgency operations against IS by Mozambican forces, with support from Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Also on a positive note, counter-insurgency has significantly decreased Boko Haram’s activities, with the organisation recording only 64 attacks in 2021.

Deaths dropped by 92 per cent from 2,131 in 2015 to 178 in 2021.

The decline of Boko Haram contributed to Nigeria recording the second largest reduction in deaths from terrorism in 2021, with the number falling by 47 per cent to 448.

Ukraine is seen as likely to see an uplift in terrorism, noting that, in the 2014 crisis, the country recorded 69 terrorist attacks.

Of serious concern are the knock-on effects of cyber terrorism to other countries, according to the 2022 GTI.

Pointing out that, in addition to cyberattacks on the Ukraine, Russia has been credited with attacks on many other countries, the Index observed that it is possible that the threat of cyber terrorism will rise globally alongside the escalation of the Ukraine conflict.

The document stated that the Ukraine conflict is likely to reverse gains in Russia and Eurasia, which recorded the largest improvement on the GTI in 2021, followed by North America.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has improved substantially, moving up two places from the least peaceful region in 2018.

For the second year in a row, South Asia is the region most impacted by terrorism, while Central America and the Caribbean region recorded the lowest impact.

The IEP Founder and Executive Chairman, Steve Killelea, said: “Terrorism is becoming more centred in conflict zones, underpinned by weak governments and political instability, while in Europe and the US politically motivated terrorism has overtaken religiously motivated attacks. As conflict in the Ukraine dominates global attention it is crucial that the global fight against terrorism is not sidelined. Terrorist activity in the Sahel is increasing substantially, and is driven by Islamic militias.”

He added: “The decline of terrorism in the West coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions on freedom of movement, travel and the immediate threat to personal health may explain some of the fall. Once the emergency measures are removed there is the possibility of an uptick in terrorism activity.”

The 2022 GTI noted that as technology has advanced so has its use by terrorist groups, including missiles and drones, which extend the reach of their attacks and reduce their casualties.

Affordable smartphones, social media and encryption are other technologies that also extend their networks, making the spread of propaganda and recruitment easier.

The report identifies IS and its affiliates as the world’s deadliest terrorist group in 2021, despite deaths attributed to the group declining slightly from 2,100, to 2,066 deaths.

The worst attack of 2021 occurred when an IS suicide bomber detonated two bombs at Afghanistan’s Kabul International Airport, resulting in 170 deaths and more than 200 injuries.

Jamaat Nusrat Al-Islam wal Muslimeen, who operate in the Sahel, is the world’s fastest growing terrorist organisation and was responsible for 351 deaths in 2021, a 69 per cent increase.

The world’s most lethal terrorist group was the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), where in Niger each attack averaged 15 deaths.

Attacks in the West have declined significantly, dropping by 68 per cent in 2021, from the peak in 2018.

In total, there were 113 attacks in Europe in 2021, and seven attacks in the United States (US).

The US recorded a significant improvement in the impact of terrorism, recording its lowest GTI score since 2012.

There were three attacks by Islamic extremists in Europe, the lowest amount since 2014.

Over the last three years in the West, there has been a significant shift in the instigators of terrorism.

Acts of religious terrorism declined by 82 per cent in 2021, and have been overtaken by politically motivated terrorism, which now accounts for five times as many attacks.

Most attacks, which are driven by a left or right ideology, are perpetrated by individuals or groups with no formal affiliation to a recognised organisation.

The targets of these attacks are often similar, typically government organisations or political figures, and the motivations are similar.

Both cohorts are radicalised online and hold the existing system in contempt.

Attacks in the United Kingdom (UK) halved in 2021 to 12, the lowest number since 2008, with only one being religiously motivated.

The US recorded seven attacks, with five being politically motivated and the remaining two unclassified.

France recorded seven attacks down by 72 per cent from the 25 recorded in 2020.

The 2022 GTI concluded that conditions most closely associated with terrorism vary depending on the social and economic factors of a country.

The Index noted that there is a clear link with political terror and a lack of acceptance of basic human rights for the majority of countries.

For Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, according to the document, there is a strong relationship between increased terrorism and social inequalities, as well as easier access to weapons and higher militarisation.

It added that for other countries, weak institutions, group grievances and political terror are significant factors in driving terrorism.

Global Terrorism Index 2022 Quick Takes 

  • Despite global terrorist attacks increasing to 5,226 in 2021, deaths declined slightly by 1.2%.
  • The Ukraine conflict is likely to drive a rise in traditional and cyber terrorism, reversing previous improvements in the region.
  • Terrorism in the West declined substantially, with attacks falling by 68%. The US recorded its lowest score since 2012.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 48% of global terrorism deaths.
  • The Sahel is home to the world’s fastest growing and most-deadly terrorist groups.
  • Myanmar had the largest rise in terrorism with deaths increasing 20 times to 521 deaths in 2021.
  • Islamic State (IS) replaces the Taliban as the world’s deadliest terror group in 2021, with 15 deaths per attack in Niger.
  • Terrorism has become more concentrated, with 119 countries recording no deaths, the best result since 2007.
  • In the West, politically motivated attacks overtook religious attacks, which declined by 82%. There were five times more political attacks than religious attacks.
  • Terrorists are using more advanced technologies including drones, GPS systems and encrypted messaging services.

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